Diary of a Rams fan

The Rams relocated to Los Angeles in early January 2016. My favorite team left me behind for greater pastures and more money. I am bitter. I will always be bitter. I am still a fan. I will always be a fan.

I was nine years old when I began supporting the Rams. Before then, I only heard about their past success as the “Greatest Show on Turf.” I did not watch football during this era. My journey with the National Football League began with the 2004 season.

2004-05: The ST. LOUIS Rams finished the regular season with an 8-8 record. The Rams defeated the Seattle Seahawks in the 2005 NFC Wildcard playoff round. They were eliminated in the next round, by the Atlanta Falcons. Little did I know that would be the first and last time I saw the ST. LOUIS Rams in the playoffs.

Complete misery ever since

The Rams entered one of the worst decade long stretches in franchise history, following the 2004 season. Take a close look at the season-by-season list of regular season records. A pattern is easily identifiable.

  • 2005: 6-10 (2nd place in the NFC West)
  • 2006: 8-8 (2nd place in the NFC West)
  • 2007: 3-13 (4th place in the NFC West)
  • 2008: 2-14 (4th place in the NFC West)
  • 2009: 1-15 (4th place in the NFC West)
  • 2010: 7-9 (2nd place in the NFC West)
  • 2011: 2-14 (4th place in the NFC West)
  • 2012: 7-8-1 (3rd place in the NFC West)
  • 2013: 7-9 (4th place in the NFC West)
  • 2014: 6-10 (4th place in the NFC West)
  • 2015: 7-9 (3rd place in the NFC West)

This is how I remember the Rams. Nothing but frustration and disappointment. The final nail in my coffin came in early January 2016. The franchise announced its relocation to southern California.

It all started here

Rams owner Stan Kroenke announced his proposal for an 80,000 seat NFL stadium to be built in Inglewood, California in early January 2015. The nationwide discussion about the league’s return to Los Angeles became more prominent.

St. Louis tried to keep the Rams. The Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers intervened and attempted to convince the league that Los Angeles better suited them. The Rams were ultimately granted the approval to relocate to the “City of Angels.”

1945-1994: The Rams called Los Angeles their home for 49 years. The team played at the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before moving to nearby Anaheim from 1980-1994.

They had periods where they were the darlings of Tinseltown. The Rams won an NFL championship in 1951 and appeared in three other ones. The franchise appeared in its first Superbowl during the 1979 season.

The Rams’ final years in Los Angeles were anything but satisfying. Shaky fan attendance, poor performances on the field and other issue led to the franchise’s demise. Then owner, the late Georgia Frontiere, decided to relocate the team to the Midwest prior to the 1995 season.

1995: The Rams relocated to St. Louis. Large crowds of football fans flocked the downtown streets with excitement. The city’s previous run with the NFL was buried, once and for all, following the arrival of the new team.

St. Louis previously had the football Cardinals. The organization relocated to Arizona in 1988 because St. Louis refused to provide the team with their own stadium. At the time, the football team shared Busch Stadium with the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team.

It took the Rams four years to achieve their first winning season in St. Louis. They amassed a 22-42 record from 1995-98. The first winning season came in 1999. It was a glorious season. It was the season that began the “Greatest Show on Turf” era.

1999-2000: The Rams finished the regular season with a 13-3 record. The Dick Vermeil-led team defeated a young Jeff Fisher-led Tennessee Titans team in Superbowl XXXIV.

MVP quarterback Kurt Warner connected to wide receiver Isaac Bruce for an 80-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. The score broke a 16-16 tie. The St. Louis defense stopped the Titans’ threat at the one yard line to seal the victory. Mike “the Tackle” Jones tacked running back Eddie George.

It took the Rams five years to capture its first Superbowl championship in St. Louis. They returned to the big game two years later. St. Louis lost to the New England Patriots by late game-winning field goal by Adam Vinateri. This loss marked the beginning of the end for the “Greatest Show on Turf” era. The Rams completed only one winning season after the 2001 campaign, in 2003.

Back to my misery

11 straight years of depression followed. The glory of being the best quickly faded into an abyss of mediocrity and disappointment. Then they just leave. They run back to California; leaving no trace of their Midwest existence, as if I never existed. It has come full circle for me.

I sat in the living room; eating a bowl of chicken flavored Ramon Noodles. The NFL Network released the announcement. “Owners vote 30-2 in favor of the Rams relocation to Los Angeles.”

My appetite quickly died. My eyes began to fill with tears. The situation became crystal clear to me: my team betrayed me.

Time froze. My body went numb and my mind went blank. All rationale became obsolete. Life quickly resumed. I got up out of my chair and walked to my bedroom. I opened the door, turned on the light, and stared at the large “ST. LOUIS RAMS” poster hanging above the bed.

Damn. They betrayed me. I felt like taking that poster off the wall and tossing it in the trash. I did not do it. I left the poster on the wall.

The tears came back. It was different this time. The tears of frustration and heart break turned into tears of love and loyalty. I had another crystal clear moment. I love this team, no matter what.

Many of my friends and fellow Ram fans had enough. They walked away with no intention of coming back. They wanted me to walk away with them; I refused. I did not want to throw away nine years of my life simply because the location changed.

Reality: My days of heading to the Edward Jones Dome are officially over. My days of watching them on television, regionally, are numbered. My days of purchasing “ST. LOUIS RAMS” merchandise are over. It is harsh, but it is inevitable.

My love and loyalty for this team will not change.

The truth about Stan Kroenke

The city of St. Louis and its residents deserved better. Kroenke wanted to move his team and was willing to do anything to make it happen. He is a businessman. It was a business move.

Moving to Los Angeles is not the problem for me. The degrading of a town and fan base that was forced to sit through 11 years of misery is where he crossed the line.

Kroenke wanted to move his team to the city that better suited him. He is happy now. He moved his team to the city that will provide more revenue, sponsorship deals and national publicity. He is happy now. His super sports complex will be ready by the 2020 season. He is happy now.

Meanwhile…

“My love and loyalty for the Rams will not change. I do not have to like Kroenke. I am bitter that the team is gone; I will always be. It will never change how I feel about my favorite team.”

I want to close this story by thanking one of the greatest running backs to ever suit up for the Rams. Thank you Steven Jackson. Thank you for the wonderful nine years you gave to an organization that clearly had little to be excited about.

It is a shame you were never able to win a championship. You will always be a champion to me. I would like to also thank Chris Long and James Laurinaitis for their contributions and commitments throughout the years.

Once a Ram, always a Ram.

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